Friday, June 03, 2016


Congratulations to Katherine McDonald, whose always interesting blog has just passed its first birthday. Katherine’s description of the benefits of blogging (interesting things happen! new ideas! feedback! it’s enjoyable!) got me thinking about the blog I used to write.

Tria Corda will turn 11 years old in a few months, but it’s far from being a continuous operation. It was born in autumn of 2005, following my graduation from Penn with a B.A. in Classical Studies and my embarking on an overseas adventure, beginning in Italy but with aspirations to end up in Turkey teaching English. I began, “I’m in the midst of some downtime between my summer employment and the first two weeks of the rest of my life, so I thought I'd start a blog,” but I set expectations low: “Sporadic Italic blogging is all that can be expected.” At the time, I was enamored of what I called the “grey area” of ancient Italy, the non-Roman non-Greek (and sometimes non-Etruscan) blob in the center of the peninsula.

With high spirits I updated a few times a month that August to December in Italy, excavating, traveling, visiting museums, shepherding, and picking olives (I never did make it to Turkey that go round). The pace dropped off rapidly after returning to the States in December 2005, studying German, and taking up a job with David Romano at the Archaeological Mapping Lab (in those days still the Corinth Computer Project, and still at the Penn Museum). I wrote only three posts in 2006, two of them really the tail end of the 2005 season, and one in early December as on update on work. If I wasn’t traveling, I didn’t have as much to say, and I imagine the job kept me busy enough.

Another year went by, until December 2007, when, I wrote, “The recent construction of the Ancient World Bloggers Group in a day has spurred (or rather goaded, in this pre-spur age) me into thinking about a return to blogging.” The first post was a schedule of papers dealing with Italic matters, as I understood them, at the 2008 AIA/APA joint annual meeting in Chicago. This marked the start of a relative flurry of posts during 2008, mostly collating news of discoveries or conferences having to do with pre-Roman Italy (the excavation of Byzantine tombs merited notice because they were found in Molise, where I’d worked). Sometimes I attempted to contextualize a bit; others were bare notices. I also occasionally commented, naively and needlessly pugnaciously, on some of the AIA papers I'd seen.

One of the two posts of 2007 was rather important, however, in signalling a change in my engagement with digital classics. At the end of December 2007 I noted that I’d joined the photo-sharing site flickr; my first uploads were mainly of photos from Italy in 2005, and skewed heavily toward the related subjects of epigraphy and spolia. Since then, although my use of Tria Corda dwindled and then ceased, I have been continually posting photos on flickr, with a much wider range of subjects. (I don’t have an editorial policy, as it were, but I’ve thought about it from time to time).

In 2009 I continued at a similar pace, but began posting more news of Italian archaeology generally, not just the pre-Roman period, especially when it hadn’t yet hit the Anglophone news. In September of that year, I started grad school, and noted “I'm more or less settled in here at Michigan; now that I've got enough work to need distracting from, blogging will continue...” The pace of posts fell off in 2010 and 2011, as course work and exams took up more of my time, and writing began to feel more like a chore. 2012 saw a slight uptick in posts, before a sudden cessation in July, initiating a silence that hasn’t been broken since (aside from a gratuitous Genucilia photo). 

In September of 2012 I began a year as a regular member of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Besides having very little time for blogging and living very much present in the moment, I felt like a lapsed Italianist. Over the past few years, I’d developed a strong interest in the Greek Early Iron Age, which grew out of fieldwork at Mt. Lykaion and a couple of seminars at Michigan my first year there. My potential dissertation topics had very little or nothing to do with matters Italic. I was still very interested in Italy, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind.
And, in the meantime, the way that people got their news underwent several changes. Feed-readers came (and went), and the facebook feed (and/or twitter feed) became a primary medium for news—at the news came in ever larger volumes. Blogs didn’t disappear, but they were no longer the prima acies of the Classical internet (See, for example, Sebastian Heath’s last post, or Tom Goskar on Past Past Thinking). Some blogs did disappear, of course; of the 35 listed on Tria Corda’s blogroll, some 10 are either dead links or haven’t had new posts in several years.

Now I’ve become an Italianist again, though not so much an Italicist proper, as I’m working on a dissertation treating the Republican phases of the Roman sanctuary of Fortuna and Mater Matuta in Rome’s Forum Boarium.

So much by way of bringing things up to speed (I could go into more detail, but I suspect it would be purely for my own, questionable, benefit); in the next post—which I intend to write before another four years have gone by—I’ll mull over possible future directions. 

Friday, July 06, 2012

Coin collector busted

silver tetradrachms
A surgeon from Rhode Island--who had ties to RISD and Harvard--pleaded guilty to attempting to sell what he believed to be three silver tetradrachms looted from Sicily. He was secretly recorded saying, "I know this is a fresh coin. This was dug up a few years ago." The coins have since been examined and determined to be "exquisite, extraordinary forgeries, but forgeries nonetheless."
[Seattle Times; more background at Chasing Aphrodite]

Photo by flickr user Cåsbr; used under CC BY 2.0 license.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Gabii 2012

The 2012 season of excavation at Gabii has begun; you can follow the progress on the official dig blog, Lapis Gabinus; on the student blog, Ager Gabinus; on Facebook; and on Twitter.

You can also check out the Gabii team's contribution to the Day of Archaeology 2012.

Beyond Vagnari: new themes in the study of south Italy in the Roman period

International colloquium, University of Edinburgh, 26-28 October 2012
The School of History, Classics and Archaeology is pleased to host an international colloquium on the study of south Italy in the Roman period that will bring together leading archaeologists and historians of ancient Lucania, Apulia and Bruttium. The conference will take place in Edinburgh on 26-28 October 2012.

Following the publication of the excavations at Vagnari by Prof. Alastair Small, an honorary research fellow in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, the workshop is intended to explore further the historical development of south Italy in Roman imperial times.

Confirmed speakers and chairs include Maureen Carroll (Sheffield), Marcella Chelotti (Bari), Amanda Claridge (RHUL), Michael Crawford (UCL), Helga di Giuseppe (Rome), Lisa Fentress (Rome), Helena Fracchia (Alberta), Maurizio Gualtieri (Perugia), Edward Herring (Galway), Philip Kenrick (Oxford), Maria Luisa Marchi (Foggia), Myles McCallum (Halifax), Tracy Prowse (McMaster), Nicholas Purcell (Oxford), Pasquale Rosafio (Lecce), Christopher Smith (Rome), Hans VanderLeest (Mount Allison), Domenico Vera (Parma), Giuliano Volpe (Foggia), and Douwe Yntema (Amsterdam).

Beyond Vagnari introduction; program and Call for Posters (due 1 September) here.

South Italy, Sicily and the Mediterranean: Cultural Interactions Conference

17th - 21st July 2012
La Trobe University
Melbourne, Australia
This conference will focus on the movement of people and interactions of culture in the Mediterranean region of Southern Italy and Sicily from antiquity until the present. The program will include exhibitions at the Hellenic Museum and the Museo Italiano of ancient Greek vases from Southern Italy and Sicily as well as other pieces from the collection of the Trendall Research Centre...

This inter-disciplinary conference seeks to foster critical analysis of geographical and chronological interconnections in Southern Italy and Sicily. Consideration of cultural interaction, population movements, and changing religious and philosophical ideas over a period of approximately 3000 years will prompt scholarly discussion around continuity and change over time in this region of the Mediterranean.

Program and abstracts available via the conference website. [I note that La Trobe has a TARDIS: Teaching Archaeological Research Discipline In Simulation.]

[Via rogueclassicism and the Classicists list]

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quaternary International 267

A pile of articles on the Early and Middle Pleistocene in Italy in the latest volume of Quaternary International (Volume 267, 26 July 2012):

Santangelo et al., "Palaeolandscapes of Southern Apennines during the late Early and the Middle Pleistocene," 20–29.

Bellucci et al., "The site of Coste San Giacomo (Early Pleistocene, central Italy): Palaeoenvironmental analysis and biochronological overview," 30–39.

Pavia et al., "Stratigraphical and palaeontological data from the Early Pleistocene Pirro 10 site of Pirro Nord (Puglia, south eastern Italy)," 40–55.

Arzarello et al., "Evidence of an Early Pleistocene hominin presence at Pirro Nord (Apricena, Foggia, southern Italy): P13 site," 56–61.

Mancini et al., "Coupling basin infill history and mammal biochronology in a Pleistocene intramontane basin: The case of western L’Aquila Basin (central Apennines, Italy)," 62–77.

Martínez-Navarro et al., "First occurrence of Soergelia (Ovibovini, Bovidae, Mammalia) in the Early Pleistocene of Italy," 98–102.

Sardella and Petrucci, "The earliest Middle Pleistocene Crocuta crocuta (Erxleben, 1777) at Casal Selce (Rome, Italy)," 103–110.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Etruscan Beer

Apropos, given the recently-mentioned 3 AM plans for Marzabotto, comes the news that Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, Leonardo Di Vincenzo  of Birra del Borgo, and Dr. Pat McGovern of the Penn Museum are collaborating on a new project to make an Etruscan beer. The beer is being fermented in pithoi, while the recipe is based in part on the finds from the Casa Nocera necropolis of biconical urns containing the remains of hazelnuts, pomegranates, apples and grapes.

There is a nine-minute video explaining the project, which is well underway.

[Via (x2); Birra del Borgo]

Workshop: Whither Colonization? Rome, 25 June 2012

The workshop aims to trace the discussion on ancient colonization(s), with a comparative perspective, by presenting different situations currently defined as "colonial" ones, from the Uruk expansion of the 4th millennium BCE to Roman colonialism in the late 1st millennium BCE.

10.30 - Introduction - Alessandro Vanzetti
11.00 - Marcella Frangipane (Sapienza): The Uruk "expansion" to North Mesopotamia: some reflections upon its nature, reasons and forms
11.30 - Mario Liverani (emeritus Sapienza): The Old Assyrian Colonies in Anatolia (19th–18th centuries BC)
12.00–13.00 Discussion
13.00 - Lunch
14.30 - Terence d'Altroy (Columbia): Civilizing chaos: Imperial Inka resettlement
15.00 - Discussion
15.30 - Alessandro Guidi (Roma Tre): Etruscan colonies?
16.00 - Nicola Terrenato (Michigan): Redefining Roman Republican colonialism and imperialism in the post-colonial era
16.30 - Coffee Break
16.45 - Discussion
17.45 - Forum (After CeC): Mediterranean Colonization, I millennium BC
18.45–19.00 Concluding Remarks

Monday, June 25th, 2012 10:30–19:00
Sapienza Università di Roma
Piazzale A. Moro, 5
Museo dell’Arte Classica
Palazzo di Lettere - Città Universitaria - piano interrato

For further information, contact Alessandro Vanzetti (

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Return of Dionysus

The Etruscan Black Figure kalpis/hydria by the Micali Painter in Toledo will be returned to Italy—the latest in a long line of returns to have come through the Medici warehouse. Reports differ as to the cooperation between US federal officials, the Toledo Museum of Art, and Italy.

[Looting Matters; Sandusky Register; Adnkronos]

Ingrid D. Rowland on Trashing Hadrian's Villa

Hadrians Villa
Ingrid D. Rowland writes on the plan of the (almost aptly-named) governor of Lazio, Renata Polverini, to dump Rome's trash a few hundred meters from the Villa of Hadrian, in the NYRB.

(Photo by the Birthday Warrior, used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.)